"It Was Just Very Bad Luck, Unfortunately."

I wish I wasn't writing this update. The last few days have been absolutely horrible and extremely sad for all of us as a family. Let me just backtrack a week or so to Valentine's Day when Trooper had his appointment with the oncologist team at Advanced Veterinary Clinic in Salt Lake City.

In order for Trooper to have this extensive appointment, he had to be tapered off of the prednisone (the only thing that was keeping him going) since the steroids will falsely decrease or increase the lab work results for his cancer workup. I started doing the tapering slowly over what should have been 12 days and he seemed to handle that ok until only 5 days in and he quit eating again and his energy levels decreased drastically. So the vet scheduled him to come in sooner (Valentine's Day).

When we got there, he perked up some because of all the scents and it being a new place. They took us back and we sat waiting for the Dr. I think he sensed my sadness and fear and kept coming over to me and giving me his Trooper stare. He got up once and gave me some kisses. The Dr walks in and she is super nice and helpful. She goes over what she already read and knew about Troopers labs and testing. She immediately felt a mass in the spleen and that the spleen felt oddly out of place and very large. After the exam, they took him back and he was going to be staying there the whole day for a full workup.

I got a call later that day from the Dr and she seemed concerned. They had done bloodwork prior to his ultrasound and Trooper's platelets had dropped down to a dangerous number. She was ultimately calling to ask me permission to still move forward with aspiration of the spleen but knowing that it was very risky now and he could possibly bleed out during or after the procedure. We both concluded that me may not get another chance as we saw his platelet counts were consistently going down over the last couple of months.

I picked him up later that evening. I had known the price estimate range if they had to do less or more testing depending on what they found. They checked us out before they brought him down and the estimate was much more on the lower range so I was immediately thrown off and realized that wasn't good news. They must have found the issue quick without having to do much looking/testing. They brought him down and I didn't expect to still see the doctor (it was past 6pm when they usually leave for the day). She said they also immediately saw the large mass on ultrasound and did the aspiration. She was able to see that it did in fact look like lymphoma to her. She said they would have more news on Monday but that she said with what she saw today in his labs and his ultrasound, she said if we did aggressive treatment, she would only expect that he would get 6 months. She told us to immediately get him back onto prednisone and increase his dose to 50mg (previously he was at 40mg).

We took him home and immediately got him started on that. He was still groggy and didn't care to eat. The next day seemed ok. He ate some that day and was drinking water. He even got up and cuddled with me on the couch (his favorite time). The next day, we fed him and he ate a little in the morning but then refused to eat the rest of the day. He wasn't really wanting to drink and his energy decreased. That kept going into Saturday. The girls tried to feed him that evening which he refused but then I heard some yelling from upstairs. I went down to see what was wrong and he started throwing up so they had to quickly get him outside. This was the point, I knew he was declining and not responding to the prednisone. In the past, he would respond to the prednisone within just a couple of days. This time around, we were on day two and he wasn't perking up even slightly. That night, he threw up multiple times.

Sunday rolls around and now he is not getting up when we open the door to come inside. He only wants to be outside and not around us. He wouldn't go in to the heated doghouse even when he was outside. We still managed to keep him in part of the day but he was so uncomfortable. He would just move around constantly.

Now it's Monday, he is still throwing up, very lethargic, and is starting to be so weak that he was having trouble walking normal. My mind knew what was coming from that phone call. They called around lunch and after hearing that Trooper was not responding to the prednisone and seeing the results from the ultrasound report, she concluded that this was splenic lymphoma that has likely spread throughout his body. His kidney values had more than doubled since the last labs, his eyes were rolling back in his head which was very hard to watch, his platelet count was super low. The ultrasound showed that his kidneys as well as the spleen were also enlarged. All of these signs, proved that it had spread throughout his body and was likely in stage 4-5.

One option was to start aggressive chemo and continue the steroids, which he had only a 50/50 chance of responding to since he was so sick. If he responded to it, in her professional opinion, he may get 3-4 months to live.

The other option (which she realized wasn't an option after all) was to give him prednisone as long as possible until the cancer became resistant to the medication and ultimately he would pass away.

She told me that in her opinion, she didn't think, with Trooper's current state, he would respond to chemo since it seems the cancer was very aggressive and he was no longer responding to the steroids. In her words she "hardly ever sees such an aggressive cancer in such a young dog and "it was just very bad luck." She also tried to help me rationalize that there was nothing I did wrong. This cancer is a silent one. It doesn't just have noticeable signs and symptoms until it is usually too late.

I can't count the amount of times she apologized. She was so sympathetic to our situation and she understood that I had to make my mind and ultimately my heart know that he wasn't going to get better and he was truly suffering. She even emailed over the paperwork for me to see with my own eyes before making a decision.

My husband and I made the call that evening after hearing all the results and seeing how much he was suffering and just wasn't even the same dog anymore. He was slowly dying and it was painful to watch. After telling the kids that we had to do this, they said their goodbyes and we brought him in to be euthanized. We chose to cremate him so that we can maybe scatter some of his ashes on the hikes we took him on.

It has been two days now, and the whole family is still struggling. I miss him and his cuddles so damn much. He got me through some of my darkest days with his kisses and full body cuddles (he didn't know his size and swore he could be a lap dog). He was the dog I had always wanted, one that loved to cuddle, made friends with anyone and any dog, well trained, loved walks and runs, perfect with the kids, and had the most gorgeous coat of fur.

I am missing him terribly.